The west's wild 2015 fire season

Blog Post created by faithberry Employee on Aug 3, 2015

A visit to the Climate Central website lets you glimpse at the magnitude of the wildfire season this year.  To date at least one US Forest Service wildland firefighter has perished in Modoc County in California and there have been injuries of wildland firefighters reported in California.  According to a Yahoo report, Firefighter Dies in-wind fueled Northern California fire, “A firefighter evaluating a Northern California wildfire was killed by the erratic, wind-stoked blaze while he was surveying an area to decide the best way for crews to handle the flames, a U.S. Forest Service official said Saturday.” 

Alaska has seen possibly one of the most devastating fire seasons to date with at least 300 wildfires burning in the state.  The concern is about the fires melting permafrost and releasing carbon stored for ages. According to a UPI report, “2015 wildfire season could be Alaska’s worst ever”, some 4.75 million acres have already burned. Even more acreage has been consumed by fire in Canada.

According to a Spokesman Review Article, wildfires blazing in Washington State have had a devastating economic effect.  "The cost of fighting wildfires in Washington state has hit nearly $35 million so far this year, as 29 large wildfires have scorched brush, grass and timber."

The Northwest Interagency Coordination Center says those large blazes have burned nearly 130 square miles, or about 81,500 acres.  A large fire burns at least 100 acres in timber or 300 acres in grass or brush.

InciWeb the Incident Information System _Fires_July2_2015
NOAA July 2015 wildfires map

This year's wildfire season is being attributed to unseasonably high temperatures, little precipitation and in many cases, unusual high gusty winds.  NOAA's map of the wildfires in the West is also a chilling reminder of the magnitude of this year's growing wildfire season. 

There are many little things that homeowners can do to act responsibly by making changes that make a difference both to the home and surrounding vegetation.  Changes such as moving firewood piles at least 30 feet  away from the side of the home, cleaning leaves and pine needles from their decks and gutters, and removing unwanted materials such as wood and other debris especially in the five foot zone around the home can not only make your properties safer but make conditions in your community safer for wildland firefighters.  The NFPA's Firewise program has some helpful educational modules and materials developed and taught by wildfire safety experts that can help you make effective choices.